Jesse Scott is rather keen to ice an Aboriginal girls hockey squad that will represent Alberta in some prestigious tournaments.
But Scott, who will be the head coach of the club, has a difficult task ahead of him to convince players and their parents, and perhaps more importantly, sponsors to buy into his program.
Scott, who lives in Calgary, wants to enter an Alberta-based First Nations squad in a pair of events this spring.
For starters, he wants to register the team in the Girls Pre-Season Spectacular, a May 11-13 event in Toronto, run by Canlan Classic Tournaments. Next he wants his squad to compete in the OneHockey International AAA Challenge, scheduled for June 21-24 in a pair of Pennsylvania towns, West Chester and Aston.
Scott said he chose these two tournaments as they are heavily attended by college and university scouts.
“I’ve been getting a fair bit of phone calls,” Scott said. “A lot of parents are interested in more information about the tournaments.”
Instead of holding a tryout camp, Scott said he and his three assistant coaches have been spreading the message about the team to various potential players.
But attending the two tournaments will be a costly venture. Scott estimates it will cost close to $36,000 to take part in the Toronto event, while the Pennsylvania tournament would cost more than $38,000.
Assuming that no sponsors are secured, each player (or their families) would have to pay about $3,200 each to cover the expenses for both tournaments.
In the early weeks of pursuing sponsorships, Scott had come up empty-handed.
“I’m sure there are businesses out there that are willing to help,” he said. “These young ladies are our future. They could end up becoming doctors or lawyers or who knows what else.”
Scott is confident there are some Alberta-based females who could play hockey for Canadian or American colleges or universities.
“We’re trying to get our Native communities to help us get to these tournaments to get exposure from the scouts,” he said.
Scott added he knew it would be difficult to land sponsors.
“I kind of expected it would be a challenge,” he said. “But if we could come up with some sort of money, that way these parents and players would be more at ease.”
Depending on their age, not all players would be able to compete in both tournaments. The category the Alberta squad would enter at the Toronto event would feature players aged 14-17, while the division at the Philadelphia tournament is for those 15-19.
Scott said he has talked to various parents who would be keen to have their daughters participate at these two tournaments, but coming up with the necessary funds is a concern.
“Hockey is an expensive sport,” Scott said, adding he believes families who have a rep player are spending between $5,000-$7,000 per year to cover all fees, including travel expenses to games and tournaments.
As a result, he fully understands why there would be some issues with forking over more than $3,000 to have their daughters take part in a couple of other events.
But he’s not fazed. “I eventually want to build the program where I can have four teams in different age groups,” he said.